Multiple options exist for making backups of your paperless instance, depending on how you installed paperless.
Before making backups, make sure that paperless is not running.
Options available to any installation of paperless:
Use the document exporter. The document exporter exports all your documents, thumbnails and metadata to a specific folder. You may import your documents into a fresh instance of paperless again or store your documents in another DMS with this export.
The document exporter is also able to update an already existing export. Therefore, incremental backups with
rsyncare entirely possible.
You cannot import the export generated with one version of paperless in a different version of paperless. The export contains an exact image of the database, and migrations may change the database layout.
Options available to docker installations:
Backup the docker volumes. These usually reside within
/var/lib/docker/volumeson the host and you need to be root in order to access them.
Paperless uses 3 volumes:
paperless_media: This is where your documents are stored.
paperless_data: This is where auxillary data is stored. This folder also contains the SQLite database, if you use it.
paperless_pgdata: Exists only if you use PostgreSQL and contains the database.
Options available to bare-metal and non-docker installations:
Backup the entire paperless folder. This ensures that if your paperless instance crashes at some point or your disk fails, you can simply copy the folder back into place and it works.
When using PostgreSQL, you’ll also have to backup the database.
If a new release of paperless-ng is available, upgrading depends on how you installed paperless-ng in the first place. The releases are available at the release page.
First of all, ensure that paperless is stopped.
$ cd /path/to/paperless $ docker-compose down
After that, make a backup.
If you pull the image from the docker hub, all you need to do is:
$ docker-compose pull $ docker-compose up
The docker-compose files refer to the
latestversion, which is always the latest stable release.
If you built the image yourself, do the following:
$ git pull $ ./compile-frontend.sh $ docker-compose build $ docker-compose up
docker-compose up will also apply any new database migrations.
If you see everything working, press CTRL+C once to gracefully stop paperless.
Then you can start paperless-ng with
-d to have it run in the background.
In version 0.9.14, the update process was changed. In 0.9.13 and earlier, the docker-compose files specified exact versions and pull won’t automatically update to newer versions. In order to enable updates as described above, either get the new
docker-compose.ymlfile from here or edit the
docker-compose.ymlfile, find the line that saysimage: jonaswinkler/paperless-ng:0.9.x
and replace the version with
Bare Metal Route
After grabbing the new release and unpacking the contents, do the following:
Update dependencies. New paperless version may require additional dependencies. The dependencies required are listed in the section about bare metal installations.
Update python requirements. Keep in mind to activate your virtual environment before that, if you use one.
$ pip install -r requirements.txt
Migrate the database.
$ cd src $ python3 manage.py migrate
This might not actually do anything. Not every new paperless version comes with new database migrations.
Most of the update process is automated when using the ansible role.
Update the role to the target release tag to make sure the ansible scripts are compatible:
$ ansible-galaxy install git+https://github.com/jonaswinkler/paperless-ng.git,master --force
Update the role variable definitions
Run the ansible playbook you created created during installation again:
When ansible detects that an update run is in progress, it backs up the entire
paperlessng_directory-TIMESTAMP. Updates can be rolled back by simply moving the timestamped folder back to the original location. If the update succeeds and you want to continue using the new release, please don’t forget to delete the backup folder.
$ ansible-playbook playbook.yml
Downgrades are possible. However, some updates also contain database migrations (these change the layout of the database and may move data). In order to move back from a version that applied database migrations, you’ll have to revert the database migration before downgrading, and then downgrade paperless.
This table lists the compatible versions for each database migration number.
1.1.0 - 1.2.1
1.3.0 - 1.3.1
1.3.2 - current
Execute the following management command to migrate your database:
$ python3 manage.py migrate documents <migration number>
Some migrations cannot be undone. The command will issue errors if that happens.
Paperless comes with some management commands that perform various maintenance tasks on your paperless instance. You can invoke these commands in the following way:
With docker-compose, while paperless is running:
$ cd /path/to/paperless $ docker-compose exec webserver <command> <arguments>
With docker, while paperless is running:
$ docker exec -it <container-name> <command> <arguments>
$ cd /path/to/paperless/src $ python3 manage.py <command> <arguments>
All commands have built-in help, which can be accessed by executing them with
The document exporter exports all your data from paperless into a folder for backup or migration to another DMS.
If you use the document exporter within a cronjob to backup your data you might use the
-T flag behind exec to suppress “The input device is not a TTY” errors. For example:
docker-compose exec -T webserver document_exporter ../export
document_exporter target [-c] [-f] [-d] optional arguments: -c, --compare-checksums -f, --use-filename-format -d, --delete
target is a folder to which the data gets written. This includes documents,
thumbnails and a
manifest.json file. The manifest contains all metadata from
the database (correspondents, tags, etc).
When you use the provided docker compose script, specify
../export as the
target. This path inside the container is automatically mounted on your host on
If the target directory already exists and contains files, paperless will assume
that the contents of the export directory are a previous export and will attempt
to update the previous export. Paperless will only export changed and added files.
Paperless determines whether a file has changed by inspecting the file attributes
“date/time modified” and “size”. If that does not work out for you, specify
--compare-checksums and paperless will attempt to compare file checksums instead.
This is slower.
Paperless will not remove any existing files in the export directory. If you want
paperless to also remove files that do not belong to the current export such as files
from deleted documents, specify
--delete. Be careful when pointing paperless to
a directory that already contains other files.
The filenames generated by this command follow the format
[date created] [correspondent] [title].[extension].
If you want paperless to use
PAPERLESS_FILENAME_FORMAT for exported filenames
The document importer takes the export produced by the Document exporter and imports it into paperless.
The importer works just like the exporter. You point it at a directory, and the script does the rest of the work:
When you use the provided docker compose script, put the export inside the
export folder in your paperless source directory. Specify
Say you’ve imported a few hundred documents and now want to introduce a tag or set up a new correspondent, and apply its matching to all of the currently-imported docs. This problem is common enough that there are tools for it.
document_retagger [-h] [-c] [-T] [-t] [-i] [--use-first] [-f] optional arguments: -c, --correspondent -T, --tags -t, --document_type -i, --inbox-only --use-first -f, --overwrite
Run this after changing or adding matching rules. It’ll loop over all of the documents in your database and attempt to match documents according to the new rules.
Specify any combination of
-t to have the
retagger perform matching of the specified metadata type. If you don’t
specify any of these options, the document retagger won’t do anything.
-i to have the document retagger work on documents tagged
with inbox tags only. This is useful when you don’t want to mess with
your already processed documents.
When multiple document types or correspondents match a single document,
the retagger won’t assign these to the document. Specify
to override this behavior and just use the first correspondent or type
it finds. This option does not apply to tags, since any amount of tags
can be applied to a document.
-f specifies that you wish to overwrite already assigned
correspondents, types and/or tags. The default behavior is to not
assign correspondents and types to documents that have this data already
-f works differently for tags: By default, only additional tags get
added to documents, no tags will be removed. With
-f, tags that don’t
match a document anymore get removed as well.
Managing the Automatic matching algorithm
The Auto matching algorithm requires a trained neural network to work. This network needs to be updated whenever somethings in your data changes. The docker image takes care of that automatically with the task scheduler. You can manually renew the classifier by invoking the following management command:
This command takes no arguments.
Managing the document search index
The document search index is responsible for delivering search results for the website. The document index is automatically updated whenever documents get added to, changed, or removed from paperless. However, if the search yields non-existing documents or won’t find anything, you may need to recreate the index manually.
reindex to have the index created from scratch. This may take some
optimize to optimize the index. This updates certain aspects of
the index and usually makes queries faster and also ensures that the
autocompletion works properly. This command is regularly invoked by the task
If you use paperless’ feature to assign custom filenames to your documents, you can use this command to move all your files after changing the naming scheme.
Since this command moves you documents around alot, it is advised to to a backup before. The renaming logic is robust and will never overwrite or delete a file, but you can’t ever be careful enough.
The command takes no arguments and processes all your documents at once.
Paperless has a built-in sanity checker that inspects your document collection for issues.
The issues detected by the sanity checker are as follows:
Missing original files.
Missing archive files.
Inaccessible original files due to improper permissions.
Inaccessible archive files due to improper permissions.
Corrupted original documents by comparing their checksum against what is stored in the database.
Corrupted archive documents by comparing their checksum against what is stored in the database.
Inaccessible thumbnails due to improper permissions.
Documents without any content (warning).
Orphaned files in the media directory (warning). These are files that are not referenced by any document im paperless.
The command takes no arguments. Depending on the size of your document archive, this may take some time.
Paperless automatically fetches your e-mail every 10 minutes by default. If you want to invoke the email consumer manually, call the following management command:
The command takes no arguments and processes all your mail accounts and rules.
Creating archived documents
Paperless stores archived PDF/A documents alongside your original documents. These archived documents will also contain selectable text for image-only originals. These documents are derived from the originals, which are always stored unmodified. If coming from an earlier version of paperless, your documents won’t have archived versions.
This command creates PDF/A documents for your documents.
document_archiver --overwrite --document <id>
This command will only attempt to create archived documents when no archived
document exists yet, unless
--overwrite is specified. If
is specified, the archiver will only process that document.
This command essentially performs OCR on all your documents again,
according to your settings. If you run this with
it will potentially run for a very long time. You can cancel the command
at any time, since this command will skip already archived versions the next time
it is run.
Some documents will cause errors and cannot be converted into PDF/A documents, such as encrypted PDF documents. The archiver will skip over these documents each time it sees them.
Documents can be stored in Paperless using GnuPG encryption.
Encryption is deprecated since paperless-ng 0.9 and doesn’t really provide any additional security, since you have to store the passphrase in a configuration file on the same system as the encrypted documents for paperless to work. Furthermore, the entire text content of the documents is stored plain in the database, even if your documents are encrypted. Filenames are not encrypted as well.
Also, the web server provides transparent access to your encrypted documents.
Consider running paperless on an encrypted filesystem instead, which will then at least provide security against physical hardware theft.
Enabling encryption is no longer supported.
Basic usage to disable encryption of your document store:
PAPERLESS_PASSPHRASE isn’t set already, you need to specify it here)
decrypt_documents [--passphrase SECR3TP4SSPHRA$E]